My BEST Live Football Experience: MALAYSIA CUP FINAL 1996
Don’t ever brag about football if you haven’t watch a live football match. I always told off those who loved to brag about their favourite teams. Most Malaysians loved foreign football league such as English Premier League (EPL), Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, World Cup and Euro Cup. Many of them neglected the local football scene. Me myself is an avid England, Liverpool and Selangor FC supporter.
I never brought up to be a footballer. I wish I have the stamina and power but yet it never deter me to have a nice football game regardless of winning or losing. My last football game will be a futsal game a few years back. Going up in a public high school, I was influenced by our multi racial friends to watch local football. In the 90s, Malaysia’s football was having its peak with Singapore playing in our Malaysian League. Well, I’m a huge supporter of Selangor FC, our local state football club. Selangor FC is one of the most successful Malaysian football club in the history.
My first experience of live football comes in 1995, Malaysia Cup Final: Selangor beat Pahang 1 – 0. It was really an eye opener, though I couldn’t see the players clearly but the atmosphere was electric. Stadium Shah Alam really rocked. The football game ended with fireworks display that thrilled the crowd. From there, I started to watch live local football matches with my fellow friends. After graduating high school in 1995, me and my fellow local football fan supporters went to our own ways.
We began to lost touch as everyone was busy with their lives. However, in 28th Dec 1996, me and my fellow Selangor FC friends were united. It was the Malaysia Cup Final 1996: Selangor vs. Sabah. Sabah’s Australian player Scott Ollerenshaw was the top scorer in the league and Sabah won the 1996 Malaysian League so Sabah was the favourite to win. Thus, the Malaysia Cup was played in Selangor FC’s homegrown of Stadium Shah Alam with the capacity crowd of 80,000 supporters! Basically it was our version of Barcelona’s Nou Camp.
We reached the mighty Shah Alam Stadium early, avoiding traffic jams. It will be easier to get parking space also.
Got our tickets and it was free seating. The ticket cost around RM 10. We sat in the middle of the stadium, where all the actions were. There were a few confrontations between Selangor FC and Sabah FC supporters. The policemen were stationed so they kept a good eye on them. The tension was starting rising. Everyone were getting excited.
There was a short black out before the game. The floodlights seems to be faulty. Everyone in the stadium regardless which team supporter light up the stadium with their lighters. It was an amazing sight. The flood lights were restored shortly.
There were always random people in the stadium. A supporter like him wearing a mask scaring people is a common sight back then in our local football scene. I don’t really know the reason, but probably he felt he could be more popular with the mask. There were also some random people blowing fire, throwing toilet papers, distributing balloons and such. This are the things that makes live football so memorable.
Not forgetting the “sucky” food like the local “Ramli” burger and fried noodles. Regardless how bad the food taste, the focus was only on the football pitch.
The game eventually started. This how colourful the stadium was. It was a capacity crowd of 80,000 people!! This could put many foreign football clubs to shame. We had one of the biggest capacity stadium in the world! Once, I met a Japanese in a local football match that he was impressed by Selangor FC back then.
The game was fiery. The game ended extra time as 1 – 1. It was time for penalty shootout. It was Sabah FC first Malaysia Cup final outing. The whole stadium quiet down as the focus down to the football on the pitch. You can hear a mosquito flew over as it was dead silent. As Selangor FC beat Sabah FC through penalty 5-3, the whole Shah Alam Stadium erupted!
This was us cheering and celebrating. God knows who was the guy in blue and also the rest in the background. This is football! Strangers become friends. And friendship through football.
The sky was lighted by the amazing fireworks display. Crowds went nuts and jumping with joy while Sabah FC’s supporters left with sadness. Regardless, it was hell a great football match. No one should be sad that night, Sabah FC played very well.
We celebrated with our friends outside of the stadium. It was the best live football moment and experience of my life. Sadly, Selangor FC’s coach Ken Worden quit after that. England international Tony Cottee also left to Leicester City the next year. Then, the local league went downhill until today.
I have not seen my football friends for more than a year. Without football, we hardly see each other. Seriously, football really brings people and friends together.
I have no shame sharing this story as football is a beautiful game. Thank you.